The Roles of the State and Federal Government in a Pandemic
Journal of Nation Security Law and Policy (2020 Forthcoming)
21 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 2, 2020
A recurring question during the coronavirus pandemic response in the Spring of 2020 has been about the division of labor and the allocation of authority between the state and federal government. This essay briefly outlines the respective roles of the state and federal governments and lays out the powers and authorities they each bring to bear in a pandemic situation. It then considers whether the federal response reflected these previously understood roles. It concludes that while President Trump was relatively quick to assert powers that he did not possess, he was less willing to invoke powers that he did, in fact, enjoy. The result was a strong rhetorical role for the federal government, but an anemic one when it came to actually carrying out federal responsibilities.
Keywords: Pandemic, federalism, emergency, disaster relief, public health
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